Leaves Russell & Scott Austin

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Laurel Hayles, The Club Circuit

Two for one reviews this week!  We really didn’t know what to expect with either of these bands – but seeing as how we’d never been to Luckey’s for a show either, we figured all bets were on!  So without further ado, we give you…

Leaves Russell (Matthew Russell – vox/keys; Isaac Medina – bass; Thacher Schmid – strings/vox; Jackson Conrad – drums)

Wow – where do I even start; this four-piece band from Portland blew us away… First, I have never heard or seen a band that plays progressive/alt rock that didn’t have a lead or rhythm guitarist, but Thacher’s strings are far and away some of the best lead riffs I’ve heard.  If you could put Transcending Maya with This Patch of Sky, and then add a little Forever Growing into the mix, you might see a shadow of what this band gave us.

Matt’s vocals are pure honey, with a range that goes from sultry to raw power, and his proficiency on the keyboards was simply beautiful.  Jackson’s drums alternated between pounding and a sweet, simple foundation, and Isaac’s bass (both electric and standing) was a different kind of perfection, running a steady stream of dark melodies like the undercurrent of a river that you just wanted to drown in.  And seriously?  He makes love to and with his standing bass, swaying and weaving with it – it was… hot!

Thacher’s backup vocals were perfect, blending seamlessly with Matt’s lead vocals; you could hardly tell where one started and the other came in.  His work on the strings (violin and what they called a “mini-guitar” – it wasn’t a dulcimer or mandolin, I’m not sure what the actual definition of that instrument is!)…was magic.  If I say that they were hot and bright and hard and completely amazing, that wouldn’t even come close to adequately describing it.

The combination of the vocals with the keyboards and violin was haunting, evocative of your darkest fantasy – just lovely.  Their songs run from funk to eclectic to light-hearted stomps.  I bought a CD – it’s become my new obsession!  Find them on Facebook and ReverbNation.  Truthfully – I think their live work completely outshines their studio album – check out this recent video from Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre:

Scott Austin and The Everyone’s Band (Scott Austin: acoustic guitar, lead vocals; Ben Klenz: drums; Joe Intile: bass, backing vocals; David Michael Frank: electric guitar, backing vocals; Erik Berg-Johansen: violin)

What a great group of guys outta Eugene!  They were lively and tight, with Scott on acoustic guitar and lead vocals.  Erik’s violin was an interesting addition to this grassroots jam band.  Folks were immediately out on the floor, struttin’ and cuttin’ moves – even the folks playing pool were bobbing and weaving.  Scott reminds me a bit of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger – not so much in sound but just his energy, as his music comes shooting straight from the heart.  He has this magnetism that pulls you in to the party!

And it was fun to see Robert Meade (who recently opened for Floater at the WoW Hall), snapping pics and cuttin’ it up on the floor as well – got to say hi and get a hug, always a treat!  Also note – Scott’s guitar is NOT pink as it looks in the photos – not sure why the stage lights were pretty much off for their set, but his guitar is a natural blond wood, not pink!!  And me without my fedora too – man, I really shoulda worn it…

The backup vocals by David were nice, and his riffs were well done too.  I really liked Erik’s violin work with the guitars, it made for a great combination.  Scott’s lyrics are easy to understand, speaking of things that everyone can relate to, and the composition of his music is just pure fun.  I think most of his previous work has been solo, with a band backing him being a fairly recent addition.  With the addition of the Everyone’s Band, it just brought up the exponential element of his work.  We especially liked the title track from his recent EP, “Into The Light.”

And damn – he looks good in jeans and a black tee!  Find Scott here:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000696684928&sk=info; http://scottaustin.bandcamp.com/

Spotlight – Luckey’s Club Cigar (933 Olive Street, Eugene, Oregon)

This was our first visit to this venue, one of Eugene’s oldest establishments.  Walking in, it felt warm and inviting – we could still almost smell and see the blue cigar smoke haze from times past.  I think they must have the longest bar of any club I’ve ever been in!  The club is big and dark and feels very much like a place where you wanna just put your feet up and have a cold (or hot – depending on the weather) beverage.  With a full bar, you could easily spend most of an afternoon or evening perfectly content.  They have three pool tables, with tables and seating scattered throughout the club, as well as several black leather couches close to the stage and a huge dance floor area.  The house sound was excellent, and the stage, while deceptively small, has enough depth to allow folks room to move while performing onstage.  We definitely liked this club and are looking forward to coming back soon!

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